“Easter is God’s Triumphant ‘YES!’” – Matthew 28:1-10
Resurrection of our Lord – April 12, 2020
1. We hear “no” a lot
a. From the world
We hear “no” a lot in our lives, don’t we!
“no, you can’t have that” “no, can’t touch this!” “no, it’s not yours”
“no, it’s not time for the Easter egg hunt yet” “no, you didn’t pass your road test”
“no, you don’t qualify for that loan”
“no, we gave the job to someone with more experience”
That message is intensified this spring, isn’t it? Dr. Bonnie Henry is saying:
“No, you can’t go to work. Stay home!”
“No, you can’t gather in parks. Stay home!”
“No, you kids can’t go to school. Stay home and learn.”
“No, you kids can’t play at playgrounds. They are off limits.”
“No, you can’t have an Easter pancake breakfast at Hope Lutheran Church.”
“No, you can’t worship together at your church.”
“No, you can’t get together as a family for Easter dinner.”
She’s got a lot of “no” messages for us this spring, and rightly so. I’m not blaming her for the
fact that you are all worshiping from your homes, I’m applauding her – for the strong stand she
has taken for the sake of public health.
When we reflect on all of her “no” messages, we must admit that we have cheated, in small
ways. We have gone to work. We have gathered as a family for a meal. And we certainly long to
gather together as a church.
b. From God
Even the Ten Commandments feature a lot of “no” messages:
No other gods No using my name wrongly No murder
No adultery No stealing No lying No coveting
And when we reflect on those Commandments, we must admit and confess that:
Yes – I have considered other things more important than God
Yes – I have sometimes used God’s name wrongly, or maybe not often called on God’s name
rightly and appropriately
Yes – I have committed murder and adultery, if not in action at least in thought, by my hatred and
anger and lust
Yes – I have taken things that don’t belong to me, and yes, I have spoken evil of my neighbour
by my lies, gossip and slander, and yes, I have sinfully wanted things that belong to someone
We must admit and confess that: Yes, I am sinful. And God agrees that I am sinful, that you are
sinful, and He says another “NO… no heaven for you!”
c. On Good Friday
Even Good Friday carried its own “no” messages – some applying to Jesus, some to us:
No plan ‘B’ for Jesus – no taking the cup of suffering away
No support from the disciples for Jesus – they all ran away when Jesus was arrested
No justice for Jesus – Pilate condemned Jesus even though he found Him guilty of no crime
No mercy for Jesus – it was the murderer Barabbas that received amnesty, not Jesus
No human compassion for Jesus – the crowd hurled insults at Him as He hung on the cross
No divine intervention for Jesus – He felt forsaken, even by the heavenly Father
No Saviour for us – people jeered, “He saved others, but He can’t save Himself!”
No hope for us – some disciples lamented “We had hoped Jesus would redeem Israel.”
The word “no” seems to dominate our everyday physical and relational lives, and even our
everyday spiritual lives. So, is “No heaven for you,” the unwelcome, nowhere-to-turn message
that we irreversibly have to look forward to someday in the future? Well… NO!
2. …Sunday is coming!
You see, Jesus spoke 7 words from the cross on Good Friday, but some words that He had
spoken to His disciples earlier, could be paraphrased and made into an 8th word from the cross:
“It may be Friday, but Sunday is coming!”
And now Sunday HAS come! Easter Sunday starts with a couple of “no” messages, too, but they
are categorically different:
No stone! An angel had rolled it away from the entrance to Jesus’ tomb!
No fear! That same angel’s words to the women who came to Jesus’ tomb to anoint His body
early that Sunday morning were: “Do not be afraid! No fear!!”, and then the BIG one…
“No body in the tomb; He is not here, because… YES, He is risen from the dead, as He said!
That YES, that triumphant YES from God turned everything around from that moment on,
throughout all of human history!! That YES, that triumphant YES from God turned everything
around for you and for me.
I have a handful of Bible passages – 8 or 10 verses at a time – that are my all-time favourites.
Maybe I should preach about those this Easter season. Besides that, I have another handful of
Bible VERSES that really stand out for me. Among them is this jewel from 2 Corinthians 1:20 –
“For no matter how many promises God has made, they are ‘YES’ in Christ.”
3. “YES” in Christ!
a. Old Testament Promises fulfilled
What that Bible verse says to me is that all of the promises about a Saviour found in the Old
Testament of the Bible find their perfect fulfillment and completion in Jesus Christ.
The offspring of a woman who would crush Satan’s head – fulfilled in Jesus, “YES” in Christ!
A great prophet like Moses – fulfilled in Jesus, “YES” in Christ!
A descendant of Abraham who would bless the entire world – fulfilled in Jesus, “YES” in
A descendant of King David who would establish an eternal kingdom – fulfilled in Jesus, “YES”
One who would be born of a virgin, in the little town of Bethlehem – fulfilled in Jesus, “YES” in
One who would be the Passover Lamb whose blood was spilled for our freedom from slavery to
sin – fulfilled in Jesus, “YES” in Christ!
One who would suffer for our infirmities, transgressions and iniquities – fulfilled in Jesus, “YES”
One who would be God’s new covenant of love and forgiveness – fulfilled in Jesus, “YES” in
And there are more…
What that Bible verse says to me is that God’s gracious “Yes” in Jesus trumps every “no” that
the Law and the Commandments and the world would speak to us or about us. Easter is God’s
b. Jesus’ own prediction
One thing that I find surprising in the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ life is that on several occasions
Jesus told His disciples that He would be handed over to the chief priests and the elders and that
He would be killed, and that He would rise again after three days. Two of those accounts are in
Mark 8 and 9. In Mark 8 it says that Jesus spoke plainly about this, and in Mark 9 it says that the
disciples didn’t understand what He meant and were afraid to ask Him about it. Somehow the
message of His suffering, death and resurrection were like water off a duck’s back for them. It
just went in one ear and out the other. But Easter is God’s “YES” to the truth of Jesus’ words and
to His prediction that He would rise from the dead.
c. The experience of the women
God’s “YES” was affirmed in the experience of the women who came to the tomb on Sunday
morning. First the angel spoke 7 brief but powerful words: “He has risen, just as He said.”
Again, this was a “Yes” to Jesus’ foretelling of His own resurrection. But even more than that…
the women didn’t just hear the words of an angel, they met the risen Jesus in person. How could
their personal interaction with a formerly-dead now-living Jesus be anything but God’s “YES!”
to everything that Jesus was and said and did.
It is in Luke’s Easter account that we read that the women went back to the physically distancing
(and doubting) disciples in the upper room, and that they told those disciples everything they had
seen and heard. And the disciples said “No! Nonsense!” and wouldn’t believe the testimony of
the women. It was only when Peter and John went to the tomb and saw it empty, it was only
when Jesus appeared to them in the upper room that very night, that God confirmed His
triumphant “Yes” regarding the questionable testimony of the women.
d. The identity of Jesus
At both the Baptism and the Transfiguration of Jesus, God affirmed that Jesus was His beloved
Son. Again, through Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, God was emphatically saying “YES, this
is my Son! He is my anointed one! He is my long-promised Saviour… of the whole world. He is
the Redeemer, the Ransom, the Rescuer. He is the Light of the World, and the Bread of Life. He
is the Good Shepherd and the Door for the sheep – all tied up in one. He is the Vine, the Way, the
Truth, the Resurrection and the Life. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the
Beginning and the End. He is my “YES” – for you!”
4. God’s “YES!” to you
So, what kind of “YESes” is God saying to you on this Easter Sunday? First we should deal with
a couple of God’s “NOs” from one of my favourite chapters in the Bible – Romans 8. The
chapter starts and ends by saying “NO!” It starts with “NO… NO condemnation for those who
are in Christ Jesus.” That means that for you who are in Jesus, who believe in Jesus, your sins
won’t condemn you, your sins won’t count against you, because they counted against Jesus as
He hung on the cross. The chapter ends with “NO… NO thing (nothing) can separate you from
God’s love in Christ Jesus.” No virus, no stay home edict, no job loss, no physical distancing
order, no sickness, no ‘worship in your own house by yourself on Easter morning’ proclamation,
not even death – none of those things will EVER be able to cut off God’s love for you. And to
that we say… YESSS!
And then there are all the aftereffect “YESes” that are the result of God’s triumphant Easter YES
through Jesus. Today, God says “YES” to you:
Yes, I love you (no matter what you have done! And I KNOW what you have done… but I love
you in spite of all that).
Yes, you are forgiven (of all of your sins – that’s why Jesus died, you know).
Yes, you are mine. I have called you by my name in Holy Baptism. You’re part of my forever
Yes, to life, in Jesus.
Yes, to hope, because of Jesus.
Yes, to joy, overwhelming, eternal, inexpressible and glorious joy.
Yes, I have a home for you in heaven.
Yes, my Son, Jesus, is preparing a place for you.
Yes, I will send my Son to come back and take you to be where I am.”
Yes, I will be with you always! ALWAYS!!
“For no matter how many promises God has made, they are ‘YES’ in Christ.” YES, YES, YES!!
5. Our response to God’s “YES!”
But that isn’t the end of 2 Corinthians 1:20. That verse ends with this nice little response: “And
so through Him the ‘Amen’ is spoken by us to the glory of God.” Because God says “YES” in
Christ, we say “Amen” back to Him in Christ. When Martin Luther explains the conclusion of
the Lord’s Prayer in his Small Catechism, he writes, “Amen, amen means ‘yes, yes, it shall be
so.’” So God says “YES” in Jesus, and we say, “YES, YES” in response. We say “YES” with
our hearts. We say “YES” with our lives. We say “YES” with our thoughts. We say “YES” with
our deeds. We say “YES” with our words. The Amen is spoken by us!! And today that Amen
sounds like this: “Hallelujah!! Christ is risen!! He is risen indeed!! Hallelujah!!” Amen.